The American Enterprise

Jefferson the contradiction.(Thomas Jefferson: Author of America)(Book Review)

Thomas Jefferson: Author of America By Christopher Hitchens Harper Collins, 208 pages, $19.95

In September 2004, Atlas Books joined forces with Harper Collins to produce a collection of short biographies that would pair notable authors with eminent figures in history. In the final sentence of their latest installment, the always-provocative Englishman Christopher Hitchens concludes by reminding his readers that "history is a tragedy and not a morality tale." And that's exactly how Hitchens examines the life of Thomas Jefferson.

Despite Hitchens' credentials as one of America's most prominent social critics, he is not a historian. But "anyone who writes about America is writing about Thomas Jefferson in one way or another," he notes, and his training has brought him the tools to offer an interesting, insightful, and thoroughly enjoyable look at the "author of America. …

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